Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Starting catcher role up in the air for Mets

GM Van Wagenen optimistic about d'Arnaud's return, keeping eye on Hot Stove
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Counting Travis d'Arnaud, the Mets have three catchers with big league experience on their 40-man roster. None of them have definitively won the starting gig, which explains the Mets' reported interest in Marlins All-Star J.T. Realmuto at the GM Meetings this week. But the presence of d'Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido gives the Mets maneuverability as they look to upgrade their roster this winter.

"I think we're in a fortunate position where we don't have to do anything in the catcher market," general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said before departing Southern California on Thursday. "We will continue to be talking to free agents at that position and others, and then also exploring trades. We can go into camp right now feeling confident we have that position covered."

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Counting Travis d'Arnaud, the Mets have three catchers with big league experience on their 40-man roster. None of them have definitively won the starting gig, which explains the Mets' reported interest in Marlins All-Star J.T. Realmuto at the GM Meetings this week. But the presence of d'Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki and Tomas Nido gives the Mets maneuverability as they look to upgrade their roster this winter.

"I think we're in a fortunate position where we don't have to do anything in the catcher market," general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said before departing Southern California on Thursday. "We will continue to be talking to free agents at that position and others, and then also exploring trades. We can go into camp right now feeling confident we have that position covered."

That begins with d'Arnaud, a 29-year-old who missed nearly all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. While d'Arnaud would need to make it back in 11 1/2 months if he is to be healthy for Opening Day, Van Wagenen said, "All indications are that he should be ready."

If nothing else, saying so publicly gives the Mets leverage in negotiations with rival teams and agents this winter. Along with d'Arnaud, the Mets have Plawecki, who provided roughly league-average value in 79 games last season, and Nido, a former top prospect who, at age 24, has yet to tap into his offensive potential. Earlier this week, Van Wagenen said he has received inquiries on his catchers from other teams around baseball, indicating that the Mets could be looking to clear space for an offseason addition.

If so, the question is, who will the Mets target? Realmuto remains the top option for any team seeking catching help, after clubbing 21 home runs with an .825 OPS in 125 games last season. But with two years of team control left, Realmuto would be expensive in terms of the type of prospects the Mets would have to relinquish. If they would have to give up, say, top prospect Andres Gimenez, it's unclear what their appetite might be for such a deal.

It's also somewhat unclear how the Marlins feel about things, after sources said the club was shy about fielding Realmuto offers last summer. Although Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill was in attendance at the GM Meetings this week, he spent almost no time at Major League Baseball's open media sessions, twice departing without discussing Realmuto's status.

For the Mets, fallback options include Wilson Ramos and Yasmani Grandal, the top free-agent backstops available. Doubtless, Van Wagenen engaged both of their agents this week at the GM Meetings, in what he described more as "fact finding" than hard negotiations. Grandal, 30, is expected to decline a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, but Van Wagenen said he won't balk at the added expense of a second-round Draft pick should the Mets go that route. Ramos, 31, could provide better value but more injury risk.

For now, the Mets are happy proceeding knowing they have options -- and a healthy d'Arnaud would give them one more. The Mets will tip their hand no later than Nov. 30, the deadline to tender d'Arnaud and other arbitration-eligible players a contract. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to make $3.7 million this season, which would be a significant salary for a backup.

By then, the Mets should have a better idea regarding what they can or can't do with Realmuto, Ramos, Grandal and others.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Travis d'Arnaud, J.T. Realmuto